Pro14: Zebre v UlsterZebre (6) 27Tries: Licata, Bellini, Giammarioli Cons: Canna, Violi 2 Pens: Canna 2Ulster (13) 23Tries: Trimble, Cave Cons: Cooney, Cave Pens: Cooney 3
Ulster’s winning start to the Pro14 came to an end as Zebre earned a shock but deserved win in Parma.
Andrew Trimble’s try helped Ulster lead 7-3 before two John Cooney kicks pushed on the advantage to 13-6 by the break.
However, Zebre were ahead within 13 minutes of the restart after tries from Giovanni Licata and Mattia Bellini.
After Ulster’s Wiehahn Herbst had a try disallowed, Renato Giammarioli’s intercept score extend Zebre’s lead before Darren Cave’s late reply.
The victory was another notable result for recently-appointed Zebre coach Michael Bradley after the former Connacht and Edinburgh boss guided the Italians to an away victory over the Southern Kings in South Africa last weekend.
Ulster may look back on Herbst’s 68th-minute disallowed try, which was followed within three minutes by number eight Giammarioli’s length-of-the-field score after he stole Christian Lealiifano’s attempted pass to Iain Henderson as the visitors were threatening to score.
Herbst’s score, after an apparently well-executed rolling maul, was ruled out as the television match official judged there had been an obstruction as Zebre attempted to defend.
But while Ulster may have a legitimate gripe about that incident, Zebre’s energetic display meant their victory was warranted.
The visitors were fortunate to be 13-6 up at the break with Trimble’s 16th-minute score the difference between the teams after Carlo Canna’s two early penalties for Zebre.
The home side were on terms by the 47th minute as Canna’s superb crosskick set up flanker Licata to score, with Canna adding the extras.
Exciting young wing Bellini edged Zebre ahead six minutes later after being set up by full-back Matteo Minozzi’s superb break and off-load.
After Cooney’s third successful penalty cut the margin to 20-16, then came Herbst’s disallowed score and while Cave did respond to Giammarioli’s interception try with an Ulster touchdown, which he himself converted, the visitors had to be content with a losing bonus point.
Zebre: M Minozzi; G Bisegni, T Boni, T Castello (capt), M Bellini; C Canna, M Violi; A Lovotti, O Fabiani, D Chistolini; D Sisi, G Biagi; G Licata, J Meyer, R Giammarioli.
Replacements: L Luus, S Panico, E Bello, L Krumow, J Sarto, G Palazzani, S Bordoli, G Venditti.
Ulster: C Piutau; A Trimble (capt), D Cave, L Marshall, L Ludik; C Lealiffano, J Cooney; C Black, J Andrew, R Ah You; P Browne, I Henderson; M Rea, S Reidy, J Deysel.
Replacements: A McBurney, A Warwick, W Herbst, K Treadwell, N Timoney, D Shanahan, P Nelson, R Lyttle.